I am so excited to be sharing this story! Not only because I know Andel personally, but because I know her spirit – and it is one of encouragement, compassion and fun. We interviewed her about her Mini Matisse Art Classes and what inspires her as an artist.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in Durban, and spent my varsity days in Stellenbosch, where I ended up with a BA HONS in Fine Art and Illustration. After that I slaved away in Sandton for two years, where I learned a whole lot about myself and who I did not want to be. Luckily I met the greatest guy, who felt the same and together we decided to move to an island for a few years. So I spent two years living and loving on the beautiful island of Mauritius. That’s how I became a wife, mermaid, artist and finally a teacher. Today we are back in SA, (Pretoria this time) and planning our next big move.
What inspires you?
My time on the island has been a huge inspiration to me. I fell in love with the ocean, the mystery of what lies beneath, the strange creatures, landscapes and especially the colours. I stood in AWE of the sunsets, the turquoise water, the purple and yellow coral, the neon fish and intricately ‘decorated’ shells that lay scattered everywhere and the Markets, which are an explosion of colours and senses. No wonder I took about 27000 photos in two years. I also started working with kids, which has been a real eye-opener for me. I am obsessed with the responsibility I have – to instill confidence in every child’s artistic abilities and reinforce their love for creativity.
How did your idea of children’s art classes come to life?
As an Expat living in Mauritius, I was not allowed to formally work. At first it wasn’t a problem because there was much to do and to explore.
But after a while I became a bit restless and decided to volunteer at a school in the area. I started with one full school day a week, where I taught art history and basic techniques, but after a while I started some extra curricular art classes with the 4 to 6 year olds as well. I just did it for the love of it. I loved the kids, I loved teaching them about art and seeing the joy of discovering their own artistic voices. When we moved back to SA a month ago, I decided to continue teaching children.
What would you say is your approach to teaching art?
Every mark made is perfect and has a purpose. No two artworks are the same, but the world loves them all. I teach kids to stop being competitive and comparing themselves to others. Every child is born creative with a unique artistic voice, but somehow they lose faith in their abilities. My aim is to cherish that creative spirit and to make sure no child loses their confidence when it comes to art.
What do think are some of the misconceptions parents and children have about art?
If you cannot draw a life-like horse by age 8 (or age 28 for that matter), you are not artistic. I have never figured out a horse, neither has Matisse, but we don’t care. Every child is born with the potential to be the next Picasso or Renoir, but somewhere along the line, most young artists are dissuaded by teachers or peers. There are no mistakes in art – in actual fact most of the great art movements happened completely by chance. Being an artist also does not mean you are a loner!
In your experience what are the benefits of art classes?
The benefits of art classes are endless. If approached right, it does not only encourage individuality, but also confidence in your own abilities. It teaches people to express themselves and to make their unique voices heard. All in all I think creativity is a skill you simply can’t afford to lose.
Tell us more about MINI Matisse
I started Mini Matisse Art Classes in September 2015 and operate it from my home in Lynnwood, Pretoria.
I divide my classes into two age groups. 6-9 year olds and 10-13 year olds, to avoid comparison.
About the Class:
We start each class with a few unwinding exercises just to get the juices flowing and then start with our projects. I’ll choose a simple subject like a still life, portrait or landscape and encourage the student to make it his or her own. I help with techniques and give advice here and there, but I encourage them to make decisions on their own. This ensures that the work is a true reflection of them. We work with various mediums, including acrylic, watercolour, gauche, collage, pastel, charcoal, ceramics and sculpture to name a few.
All materials are included and the work belongs to the artist.
Holiday Art Program:
Kids will join me for 3 hour classes each day.
I also host ART Parties where groups of kids/adults join me in studio for an art class, where we create, paint, laugh and relax with everything art related (down to the palette cookies and paintbrush cakes- wine for the adults). I’m also starting a toddler Art-Play and a Adult class in the near future (because no one should be left out) and you are never too young to learn or too old to embrace your creativity!